Fire marshals ready safety legislation

The National Association of State Fire Marshals is dusting off its draft of the American Home Fire Safety Act in preparation for introduction to Congress. The proposed legislation was developed in late 2001, but was put on hold in 2002. If passed, the act would mandate that the Consumer Product Safety Commission adopt new fire standards for mattresses, upholstered furniture, bedclothes, candles and cigarettes.

“Things are looking very positive,” said Don Bliss, president of NASFM and state fire marshal in New Hampshire. “There is considerable interest on both sides of the aisle.”

Bliss said that he anticipates the legislation will be introduced this spring and hopes that will occur simultaneously in both the House and Senate.

Bliss, who has been very vocal in supporting the research efforts of the Sleep Products Safety Council, said that the draft will continue to be subject to revisions based on new information that becomes available prior to introduction. “We are continuing to dialog with various industries in developing the best possible science to reflect a real–world fire scenario,” he said

CPSC issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in October 2001 announcing its intention to develop new open–flame regulations for mattresses, foundations and mattress pads. Last month, a year after the close of the comment period, the agency’s staff was instructed to prepare a briefing package outlining the options for setting federal standards to cover both the mattress/foundation and bedclothes. (Editor’s note: California’s proposed standard was published on February 24 and is available for review at www.bhfti.ca.gov/. Look for the AB 603 link.)

Meanwhile, NASFM is in contact with CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton and his staff on a regular basis, Bliss said. If CPSC decides to proceed, he noted, the group could opt not to take the legislative route.

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